Welcome to St. Cecilia Parish!
We’re very glad you’ve decided to make St. Cecilia Parish your spiritual home. We’ve tried to make this page a one-stop shopping resource to help you get acquainted with your community and rapidly get plugged in to Parish life.
The first thing you should do is join us for Mass every Sunday! Click here for Mass times.
Registration is as easy as filling out this electronic Parish Registration Form. Welcome!
St. Cecilia is a Stewardship Parish. As such, we recognize that everything we have is a gift from God and that we are called to return a portion of those gifts back to God. As disciples, we give of our time, our talent, and our treasure.
Time. Giving time back to God is about using our time to strengthen and grow our relationship with God. We can do this in many ways:
- Attending Mass
- Daily prayer (Nothing strengthens our relationship like consistent, faithful, and thankful prayer) learn more
- Adoration (Friday following 9 am Mass through 9am Saturday) learn more
- Bible Study (morning and evening groups available)
- Lenten Small Group Study
Talent. We all have unique God-given gifts, ways in which we can work to build the Kingdom like no one else. But, we must remember that our gifts are given to us by God to be used not for ourselves, but for others! There are many ways we can do that and many ministry opportunities here at St. Cecilia parish. We hope that everyone at St. Cecilia finds at least one ministry in which they can use their talents for God’s will.
Treasure. Once a year in the fall, we ask every registered member to consider what amount they can pledge to financially support the parish and its work. We prayerfully consider how we can work toward the Biblical tithe of 10% of our income – 5 % to our parish and 5 % to other charities and worthwhile causes and return that information to the parish. Online Giving is also encouraged, as it ensures on-time delivery of your pledged amount and reduces paper and postage. We can only do the things we do and offer the programs we offer because our members support the parish.
Faith Formation: Birth thru High School
There are many programs for the youth of St. Cecilia Parish. Contact Cassie Nicholson for more information.
- St. Cecilia Catholic School serves students aged 3 thru middle school
- Faith Formation Classes for students K – 8 ( aka PREP, Parish Religious Education Program)
- Youth Group and Confirmation prep for high school students
- Mothers & Others group for caregivers of all ages
- Liturgy of the Word for Children at the 10 am Sunday Mass
- Baptism Education Classes
Faith Formation: Adults
Education and growth are for life! Watch the Sunday bulletin or contact Cassie Nicholson about ways to grow your faith and enrich your life.
- RCIA – learn more about Catholicism
- Weekly Bible Study
- Spiritual Enrichment Events – Guest speaker series
- Book Groups – both day and evening groups are available. Check vestibule for reading list.
The History of Our Parish
Father Francois Blanchet, later Archbishop Blanchet, the pioneer missionary of the Oregon country, traveled by canoe through Agate passage in 1840 and visited the Native American at their camp below what is now Suquamish. By 1843, Captain Wilkes records that there was already a crude Catholic chapel at this site. The priests who continued to serve the Catholic Tribes of Puget Sound throughout the following decades also visited the flourishing settlement of Port Madison. During the late 19th century, Mass was celebrated from time to time at the home (still standing) of Phillip Wist, the local hotel keeper.
As Port Blakely, in turn, became a booming mill town, its Catholic families gathered about once a month for Mass at the home of one of the workers. In 1914, these families built St. Andrew Church on the top of Blakely Hill.
About this same time the Catholics of Winslow bought the old one room Winslow school house and moved it across the street to its new site next to where the bowling alley stood on Madison Avenue. In 1914, this new church was placed under the patronage of the Roman martyr St. Cecilia and officially established as a mission of Our Lady Star of the Sea Parish, Bremerton.
The St. Andrew and St. Cecilia congregations were served first by the Redemptorist Fathers from Sacred Heart Parish, Seattle and then after 1930, by the Jesuits from Seattle College (now Seattle University). For some 18 years the much beloved Father Raymond Nicholas, S.J., celebrated Mass on the Island every Sunday. On these Sundays, and the occasional Saturday, he also baptized babies, married couples, conducted funerals, visited the sick, taught catechism class to the youngsters, trained the Altar servers, and also found time to get to know his flock. Weekdays were spent teaching history classes at the college. St. Andrew continued until 1943 at which time it consolidated with St. Cecilia.
With the Winslow shipyard booming and the two large naval installations active, Fort Ward and Battle Point, St. Cecilia could barely take care of the swollen population brought on by the Second World War. The church had been placed on a lot that sloped sharply down, and the Altar end rested on tall stilt-like foundation posts. When the large group of communicants went to the Altar rail, the floor would shake and vibrate, and a feeling of uneasiness would prevail as the people wondered if the church was about to collapse. About this time, plans were made to build a new church when the war ended, and Fr. Nichols arranged for the large collections to be placed in a building fund.
On November 6, 1946, the St. Cecilia Altar Society was founded, a dedicated group of ladies who had as their primary goal the building of a new church. They have card parties, teas, dances, and dinners and saved all their money to go toward the new building. They also cared for the Altar and lines, and provided lunch and transportation from the ferry landing for the Holy Name Sisters who taught Saturday morning catechism classes.
The little church was growing shabby. Its paint was peeling, the floors were wearing then, and the old wood heater smoked, but all the repairs were postponed in hopes that the new church would soon be built. The war was over and things would soon be back to normal. The parish received a windfall in 1947 when Louis Esterman (later Fr. Marian, O.S.13.) donated 5 acres of land upon which to build the new church. Construction began in January 1949. Then in June of 1949, St. Cecilia at last received full parish status and Father John Duffy became its first resident Pastor. Others who have served as pastors at St. Cecilia since 1949 include:
Rev. Laurence O’Larey (1953-55)
Rev. William Odgen (1955-61)
Rev. Alfred Mathlenski (1961-69)
Rev. Charles Crosse (1969- 71)
Rev. Gerald Moore (1969-74)
Rev. Cornelius Harrington (1974-79)
Rev. Donald Conger (1979-90)
Rev. Joseph Erny (1990)
Fr. John Graisy (1990- 91)
Ward Oakshott (1991-95)
Fr. Gerard Clenaghan (3/95-6/95)
Fr. Patrick Godley (1995-2000)
Fr. Dennis Sevilla (2000-2003)
Fr. Sean O’Loughlin (2003-2005)
Fr. Emmett Carroll (2005 – 2013)
Fr. Joseph Mitchell (2014 – 2018)
Fr. Mark Kiszelewski (2018 – present)
In the early 1980’s, the Parish Council formed a task force to study our long-range needs. Out of this committee’s extensive study, there came the historic decision to build a new parish church and hall, and to convert the existing church and hall into classroom and meeting room space.
Years of fund-raising followed. On the holy night of Easter Vigil, April 18, 1987, the doors of the new church were at last opened and the first Mass was celebrated. On May 1987, the new church and hall were solemnly blessed and dedicated by Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen. On November 22, 1987, the Feast of St. Cecilia, the new statue of our Patroness was blessed.
In 2001, St. Cecilia Parish began a Catholic school, under the name, Mustard Seed. In 2003, it grew to accommodate preschool, pre-k, kindergarten, and first and second grade. Grades were added each year. St. Cecilia Catholic School now serves students from Preschool through Middle School.
As growth continued, the old church and hall were razed to make way for the St. Cecilia Faith Center, which opened its doors in 2010 and now houses St. Cecilia Catholic School, parish offices and meeting rooms.
For over a century a group of believers, a community of love and faith, has worked and worshipped together here on Bainbridge Island. To all those who have made the building up of this parish possible we are truly grateful. Now we welcome you who are new to the St. Cecilia parish family and we invite you to pray and work with us that God may be better known and served and loved within our Island community.